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Using the pandemic to re-set the world economy

Using the pandemic to re-set the world economy thumbnail
View of skyscrapers from below. Image credit: Samson/Unsplash

On February 21, 60 major companies announced that they will be adopting a new economic framework, in partnership with the World Economic Forum.

“Executives from Bank of America, Mastercard, KPMG, and about 60 other large companies announced […] they’ll be adopting a new reporting framework for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF),” Business Insider reported. “Other companies that have signed on to this reporting framework include Salesforce, Unilever, Dell, and Sony.” The new standard will be called “stakeholder capitalism metrics.”

Milton Friedman’s 1980s economic dictum that profit is the purest motive is about to meet its strongest challenge ever — stakeholder capitalism, represented by corporate and financial institutions’ adoption of annual ESG audits, to measure and report how much risk a commercial entity faces on three fronts: environmental, social, and governance.

Following Friedman’s analysis, politicians conducted decades of campaigns to reduce the size of government. Now 69 of the world’s largest 100 economies are corporations. When countries went into lockdown, most of those corporate empires went into crisis.

An important survey published shortly before COVID-19 hit, found that more than half the 36,000 respondents (56 per cent) believed that capitalism was doing more harm than good globally. Citing this dismal news, international business consulting firm McKinsey urged business leaders to take a wider view: “… and make the choice to demonstrate that they see their mission as serving not only shareholders but also customers, suppliers, workers, and communities.” That is — “stakeholder capitalism.”

The World Economic Forum has called for an economic “great reset” because of the pandemic. After a year of people staying home, the WEF warns, “There is good reason to worry: a sharp economic downturn has already begun, and we could be facing the worst depression since the 1930s.

“To achieve a better outcome,” continues the article by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, “the world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a ‘great reset’ of capitalism.”

Without swift attention, he warned, decades of social and economic progress would be lost as the economy sank. “Some countries have already used the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to weaken environmental protections and enforcement,” he said. Inequality is rising again, everywhere. This, although the pandemic has reminded us all of our social responsibilities.

“ESG investing grew out of investment philosophies such as socially responsible investing (SRI),” according to the Chartered Financial Planners of Canada, “but there are key differences. Earlier models typically use value judgments and negative screening to decide which companies to invest in. ESG investing and analysis, on the other hand, looks at finding value in companies — not just at supporting a set of values.”

“Topics such as climate change and social inequity are transforming the business environment,” reports international accounting firm KMPG, “and driving the evolution of ESG risks and opportunities for organizations. Stakeholders — including investors, regulators, customers and employees — increasingly expect organizations to manage the impacts of these issues.”

“There was a time when a public stance on ESG issues was a public-relations tactic,” says a recent NASDAQ report. “However, in today’s rapidly changing business climate, attention to ESG issues is becoming critical to long-term competitive success. In fact, according to the U.S. SIF Foundation, total U.S.-domiciled investments using sustainable, responsible and impact (SRI) strategies, reached $8.72 trillion, an increase of 33 per cent from 2014 and a 14-fold increase since 1995.

“That represents about one of every 6 dollars under management.”

The trend toward ESGs is very compatible with recent trends towards exchange-traded funds (ETFs or “index funds”). A management team chooses the top earners in a certain area (construction, agriculture, retail) and sells shares in a  fund that owns equities in (usually) the top 10 industry leaders.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has noted that:

“The finance industry is creating more products and services related to ESG ratings, indices, and funds. Firms calling themselves ESG ratings providers have multiplied. The number of  ESG indexes, equity and fixed income funds and ETFs are now in the many hundreds, and are continuing to expand….”

However, the 2020 OECD report, “ESG Investing: Practices, Progress and Challenges,” starts with a caveat about the lack of standards for reporting ESGs. “While the mainstreaming of forms of sustainable finance is a welcome development, the terminology and practices associated with ESG investing vary considerably.” Definitions and applications vary widely, the report says, and “… returns have shown mixed results over the past decade, raising questions as to the true extent to which ESG drives performance.”  The OECD concluded that, “Global guidance may be needed to ensure market efficiency, resilience and integrity.”

Since that OECD report, the World Economic Forum has acted. Business Insider reported that, “In September, the World Economic Forum and the International Business Council (IBC), run by Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, partnered with ‘the Big Four’ accounting firms to create the reporting framework of 21 ESG standards. The big four — Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG — provide financial auditing and other professional services.”

At the very least, “stakeholder capitalism” and ESGs mark important milestones in the world economy. For those with money to invest — or consumers who want to know more about the products they buy — ESG reports are usually in the very front of a company’s annual report, which can usually be found on their website. Consumers can compare companies according to their commitments and annual progress (or not) — and use their purchases to encourage products and vendors according to the ESG.

The World Economic Forum is pushing for ESGs to be a turning point. As Klaus Schwab noted, “The COVID-19 crisis is affecting every facet of people’s lives in every corner of the world. But tragedy need not be its only legacy. On the contrary, the pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world to create a healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous future.”

Award-winning author and journalist Penney Kome has published six non-fiction books and hundreds of periodical articles, as well as writing a national column for 12 years and a local column in Calgary for four years. She was editor of from 2004-2013.

13 Comments on "Using the pandemic to re-set the world economy"

  1. makati1 on Sat, 6th Mar 2021 4:26 pm 

    The ‘Plandemic’ was always in the works since the WEF began (1971). It has now materialized in the real world. It will not succeed, but it will cause a lot of pain, in the near future, for millions, especially in the 1st world.

    The old ass swab that got the idea long ago, should be dead and will be soon. Long before any of his megalomaniac plans could become reality, other than the house arrest of billions and their financial destruction.

    But then, the West, especially Amerika, deserves the downgrade of their economy and life style. They have been doing that to the rest of the world for over 70 years. Payback is an angry bitch!

    Here in our neighborhood, life goes on much as always. We are still adding to our farm in many ways and enjoying life w/o those face diapers, except if we have to go to Manila. That is a rare occasion. The dry season is beginning and we plan to plant a nice garden this year and experiment with some new seeds from the US. Retirement is great, if you planned and prepared beforehand! ^_^

    BTW: Notice that the WEF began about the same time the US went off the gold standard and started printing faux money. Hmm…

  2. DT on Sat, 6th Mar 2021 4:57 pm 

    This past years pandemic has proved one thing at least, that is, disaster capitalism is alive, well and thriving.

  3. Theedrich on Sun, 7th Mar 2021 1:58 am 

    The U.S. is the planet’s monster squid. If the our species is to continue existing, America must cease to do so. The vermin who control it are destroying the basis for homo sapiens as an intelligent life form. The “exceptional” nation is a cancer on the globe.

  4. Anonymouse on Sun, 7th Mar 2021 4:31 am 

    Indeed it is Thee.

  5. makati1 on Sun, 7th Mar 2021 3:56 pm 

    I second that thought, Anon. Theedrich has his finger on the real Amerika.

  6. Cloggie on Mon, 8th Mar 2021 6:34 am 

    “Denmark’s €29 Billion Green Energy Island”

    Two Danish energy islands in the North Sea and Baltic are beginning to take shape.

  7. someguy on Mon, 8th Mar 2021 2:39 pm 

    one thing in common with all these ‘green’ or otherwise politically correct ‘investments’ is that they are always done with somebody else’s money.

  8. Biden’s hairplug on Mon, 8th Mar 2021 3:30 pm 

    Who runs BLM?

    “Did a ‘Convicted Terrorist’ Sit on the Board of a BLM Funding Body?“

    (((Susan Rosenberg)))

    BLM, a jewish weapon against white people.

  9. Biden's hairplug on Wed, 10th Mar 2021 7:07 am 

    Large columns of Democrats voters from South-America cross the US southern border:

    “Livid Trump Blasts “Our Country is Being Destroyed at the Southern Border””

    In 4 years time they no longer need Dominion vote fraud.

    Wonderful, eh, that democracy thingy? If you can’t win via the ballot, just import a new electorate.

  10. FamousDrScanlon on Thu, 11th Mar 2021 1:26 am 

    Will Mankind Be Extinct In a Few Years?

    “According to a new book by Dr Shanna Shaw, Count Down, the male sperm count in Western industrial countries, including the EU and USA, is falling at a dramatic rate. Shaw estimates that over the past four decades the average sperm count has dropped by 50% or more. In other words a young male today seeking to have a family has only half the sperm count his grandfather did, half the chance to conceive.”

    “Shaw’s book is a further elaboration of a 2017 peer-reviewed scientific paper which Shaw and colleagues published. In the paper, Shaw carefully analyzed a total of 244 estimates of Sperm Concentration and Total Sperm Count (TSC) from 185 studies of 42 935 men who provided semen samples in 1973–2011. What they found was alarming to the extreme. But beyond a few media headlines, no changes of consequence resulted, as the powerful agrochemical corporations such as Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, DowDuPont (now Corteva) lobbied regulators to ignore the findings.

    Shaw found that “Among Unselected Western studies, the mean Sperm Concentration declined, on average, 1.4% per year with an overall decline of 52.4% between 1973 and 2011.” The same group of males, had “an average decline in mean TSC of 1.6% per year and overall decline of 59.3%.” That is a sperm count decline as of a decade ago of more than 59% in men, unselected by fertility, from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. And it continues to decline year by year.”

    A Single Chemical Plant in Louisville Emits a Super-Pollutant That Does More Climate Damage Than Every Car in the City

    Executives at Chemours promised at the White House in 2015 to try to abate the emissions. Now, they say it will take two more years.

    Lets face it, the humans are a fucking CANCER.

    Like all cancers their last victim is themselves.

  11. FamousDrScanlon on Thu, 11th Mar 2021 1:53 am 

    Stupid people make me laugh

    How QAnon Could Make Climate Conspiracies a Whole Lot Worse

    “Space lasers” and “weather warfare”, oh my.

    “The same people who’ve been active during the pandemic will probably play a role. “The so-called lockdown sceptics, they’re all climate deniers,” says Lewandowsky. “And it’s the same think-tanks that are sponsoring both.”

    A think-tank that organised The Great Barrington Declaration – a controversial open letter calling for an end to lockdowns – was organised by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), a libertarian free-market think-tank that has previously denied scientific consensus on climate. There are lots of groups like this, whose anti-government and anti-regulation talking points often cross over. In of December 2019, for instance, a “drop” from the QAnon movement’s imaginary military intelligence insider, Q, painted the Paris Agreement as a phoney takeover of treacherous big government, calling it “Another Scam to Ripoff Taxpayers and Enrich the Politicians”.

    Conspiracy Theorist Who Stormed Trudeau’s Property Sentenced to Six Years

    Corey Hurren posted about Event 201—a conspiracy that posits the COVID-19 pandemic was planned—shortly before storming the property the Prime Minister lives on with his family.

    “The man who drove his truck through the gates of Rideau Hall—where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lives with his family—and had an armed standoff with police was sentenced to six years today.

    Corey Hurren, a 46-year-old Canadian Armed Forces reservist, posted conspiracy content on social media shortly before ramming the gates. He pleaded guilty to seven firearms charges in February and mischief. When he was arrested, he was armed with three long guns, including a semi-automatic rifle, and had said that he was prepared to die during the standoff with police. Hurren said he was hoping to “speak” to Trudeau when he stormed the property. The prime minister nor his family were at Rideau Hall during the time of his attack.

    On social media, Hurren shared several posts that indicated his beliefs in conspiracies surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and one post that showed he harboured an interest in QAnon.”

    Keep it up Qanon-climate deniers. I love watching you go to jail & get fucked up or killed in AGW Jacked disasters like the texass blackout.

  12. Biden's hairplug on Fri, 12th Mar 2021 1:47 am 

    We have a German-American vaccine, a British-Swedish one, a Russian one, a Chinese one, and now we have a Dutch one:

    Janssen pharmaceuticals, owned by US Johnson & Johnson, but the brains behind the vaccine are (female) Dutch.

    It’s already in use in the US, where standards are lower, now it is approved in Europe too.

    Advantage: one shot suffices, no need for difficult handling at low temperatures like with Pfizer.

  13. Dredd on Mon, 15th Mar 2021 8:43 am 

    Not knowing is the pandemic that is re-setting the world (The Coronaviridae – 3).

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